Gide has worked together with legal directors' association Cercle Montesquieu on a survey ("Businesses and lawyers: what new ways of working together?") regarding the expectations of businesses vis-à-vis their law firms. Independent polling institution Odoxa surveyed from 11 July to 2 September 2019 a highly qualified sample of 285 legal managers and general counsels of major corporations. The survey highlighted essential criteria that companies apply when choosing a law firm, and the main expectations of executives and general counsels from their chosen legal advisors. The answers to this survey give the keys to a successful working relationship for the years to come.
Two-thirds of respondents state that a trust relationship is their foremost criteria when choosing a law firm
Just as the world of law is changing to meet the complexity of society, so too are business expectations. They therefore expect tailor-made legal support with a strong advisory dimension. Stéphane Puel, Gide Managing Partner, says: "Trust is at the heart of the relationship between companies and lawyers. Our role must develop even further towards that of a true business partner. That is our objective". Laure Lavorel, President of the Cercle Montesquieu, adds: "For the first time ever, a study looked at the relationship between law firms and legal departments, which has changed considerably over the past ten years. Legal departments are increasingly looking to their advisors for a strategic analysis that is as close as possible to the company's needs".
The need for a close working relationship between businesses and their lawyers is the biggest take-away of this survey. Gide and Cercle Montesquieu break it down into three sections:
A need for bespoke service
The working relationship between law firms and general counsels is above all a question of service. With this in mind, law firms must take a bespoke approach to their clients. Above and beyond the legitimacy and reputation of a law firm, it is vital to put forward their lawyers as key contacts for the businesses they advise.
The survey, drawing on the statements of general counsels, highlights the important need for transparency. Companies look to a more regular and fluid communication with their lawyers. As well as important listening skills, respondents expect clearer billing and more relevance in the type of legal support offered.
A good understanding of business stakes
Another enlightening aspect of this survey was that companies are looking for a more overall support from their lawyers, with a role moving towards business advice to support companies' strategic challenges.